Parent/teacher as co-learner
The whole of project learning is to help a child connect with his work.
The dance that you will do is to try to support that work without getting in your child’s way -- to try to help the process along without taking the reins or accidentally standing directly between your child and what they are trying to accomplish. To try to support them without mindlessly taking it right out of their hands. It’s not always easy.
(I will freely use the word “teacher” because to me, it is not a pejorative. By referring to you as a teacher, I am simply acknowledging that your role is different from your child’s and your main goal is to support your child’s learning. I am in no way advocating that you act as a traditional public-school teacher.)
For a child to connect with their work,
- The child’s interests and questions have to determine the direction the project takes. Try not to make value judgments; instead, wait to see what happens. What may seem to be a trivial pursuit may turn into something complex and interesting.
- The child needs to own the process. If you are feeding them materials, experiences, thoughts, they know that. They understand that you think you know more than they do, which is discouraging.
- If you think you cannot pursue a certain project topic because you don’t know enough about it, good! The point isn’t for you to filter all the knowledge that ends up in your child. If you can learn together, good. If you can allow your child to teach you, even better.
Your child’s work is to learn about their project. Your work is to learn about your child, how he learns, and how you can support him.
Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn. — Loris Malaguzzi